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Sketches Of Dr. Lyman Beecher

Sketches Of Dr. Lyman Beecher image
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In this connect'on I am tempted to report from memory a passage from Dr. Beecher's lectures on Butler, combiiiiiig all thesingularties of nis style. " Revery s a delighlful intoxication into wliich the mine) woiks Uself by tliis puwor of retiring from the real werld to oneof' laiicy. ttevury is an extern pore making of novel, kdestroys the power of God's moral gnvernrnciit over us ; it blots out the heauty aixi excellence of lioliness ; it eclipses t''e fearful ideas of God, eternity, heaven and heil ; and sluits up the soul agaïnst all motives to correct aefíon. I knew a person who, liv the power of this habit, for a year battled conviction and delayed conversión. When truth ciit ti io clo6y. he would open this !acli door and retire into the elegant garden of fancy, thus stif! tig unwelcome fa' ts with pleasant fictions. 1 1 (3 hitn he must break up the halm or be ihnn.-d, for (Jod's Spirit would notseek for tila n tliat garden." bomewlu-ie lp the same course of lectures, a spok of ' laziness deranging the nervous i vs'.em, and rousing a tyrant within capablo of niakiog hel] on eartli. And t is most remarkabie how stoutly nature resists all's upn rights, always hanging oul the flg of distress liefsre she vields." And ny ilm way, I ara reminJed how mucli wë used to be amused by the Doctor's questions on Butler. He would construct questions ol such a leading cliaracter even on the most profound ideas of the book, that the answer was ndieated, and a child could have replied. It required no study to keep square with this xamination. I3ut when he began his own development of Butler in continuous remaiks, no fnind co'ild ñag and yet keep up. He presset forwaid like a panting war-horse. Never dit that knotty uld book appear to grand, as when this master commentator took it to pieces, ihowin ijs the intricate and splendid mechanism vvhich so skillfully had fitted bone'to lus Sonc, and Heshed it into perfect form. Now !io would take an isokied idea com]ressed as with a hydraulic press by Butler, and then expand and Ilústrate it in its relations to a great 'vuniuo, iiiiiii our minus would glow with --xcitement. Now he would fathom some liapter, and prove it not bottomless, but on iecontrary, a sea of condensed thoughts from liicli Citmraon minds may draw their fill villioiit pxhausting t. Now he would take ns position as a man in aquarry oftliis primitiva granite, and roll down thence Inige blocks whicli to construct the eu-rnal temple of f ruth. AuJ with his mighly torch illuminating 'hf perfectiön of'God's government, and of the !f ' luis instituted to secure the highest ill iiis creatlireB KbVr did we reali?e rcibly tlmt "Satan is an inteTNeddling Irel, wlio luis ihnist liis hand maliciously iaM tho perut chronometer God had made to iis cruattirus to heaven. Wretchedness th ensued" And vet was God to be ■AV' ■e locriires on Butler abound ín most . ssagei, whicli make me long to see m ►irtbècT 1 cannot ref'rain from quotin ne, aJthough t must be imperfect, havin ooen written from memory. It was deüvered vith the greatest energy. The Doctor had ilosad his book, and laid his spectacles up on nis head. ',' The infidel demands, why did not God to creata man that he must be happy Because He is benevolent. Mind, to be happy, must be voiuntary. Crod never intciicied to' peoplethis world with machines, and then ere uta another order of beings to vvait on them ! Hd this been done, that fbuntain, the affer.tions -ould have heon dried up. Affection lor a 'Vire, a child, ora friend, would then have heen ropossible. The eiercige, free anJ joyous, of eason, eonscience, will, is necessary io happiïes.i. Yet thu infidel wishes God to blöt 01U 11 iliis. All tlie happitiess resulring from the 8sll;ssactivity of mind, which may roam i'rom bject. to olijecr, cnllcii[i; something new from verytliiiiii in nature, uud then suaring from ■rld to world, enraptured with the new disvs of wisdom tind benevolence it every;re beholiJa.; all the happiness goshing Rko 11 of Uving water within the heait ofa berolutitarily holy ; the tender syrn pa' hy ch noV tiirills the souls of friends in pros.■ity iq.l adversity; all thee must be annidted 10 sütisfy the oavils and sneers f coldar' J mfi.leliiy ! But ir canncit be. God's in U thé best. It diflFWs heavenly joy if pe verted, oven it it does hurl thunderbolta th. transirressor." . nave no doubt but hundreds of the Docs most brilli.uit tlioughts, having heen flung . íis tlie Frícfion of excitement has elicitod m, will perish. They have been like brilit meleors, rushing in a track of liglit down larkness. And no more striking inutration he (act can be made, than the series oflecs he orenche.1 to the rnechanics ofCincin, th Krat after he went to the west. ; circuinstahces were so peculiar, that they led out all the Doctor's power. A young man, of devoted píety, was employod by some pious ladies of Cincinnati as citv inissionary. Somewhere in thp city lio had found a clicjúe of infidel mechanics, who frcquently assembled to discuss tlieir common disbelief in Christianity. He managed the case with so much adroitness, that they consented tliat he should meet with them on one condition. Thev were ro propose their difficulties in writing. and he should have a week to prepare his answer, which was to be delivered to the club nssembled. For a short time he acquitted himseif remarkably well, but it was not long before they drove him inio deep water. He tried to fathom ir, bnt it was too deep. On his way to the place of meeting he inet Dr. Beecher going to his weekly lecture in his own church. He unburthened his difficulties, and besought the Doctor to ero with him. Forthwith, without any more notice, the Doctor started to grapple with these subMe opponnts. The place of was a workshop, and his rostrum a carpenter's bench. - More auspicious circumstances could not be summoned to amuse his mind. The entire novelty of the scène, its suddenness, and, witha!, the hand-to-hand fight he had now engaged in with actual men, who were no " men of straw,'1 all comUned to roilue every energy, and string every nerve. Those eager and earnest men, crowded around him, waitino-his reply to their inquines, moved tho internal power of the man, and gave it momentum, which bore him triurnphantly through the difficulties. Those who heard him, agree in this, thnt he drove, like a giant, at the heart of every objection and sent every man away silence.l. Another meeting was appointed at the ame place, which was so nnmerously atended that all could not be admitred. Tlie Docor H'as none the less a giiint because of having giided his mind with the mcditations and researchfs of week. The whole ground was now laid open, and the work of rufutation comrnenced in barnest. No objection could be srai-ted, hut this luminous mind would search it through and consume it. But he was not content with mere defensive war. Like a bold warrior he made ageression. The lessness of infidelity was shown up in clearest lignt. Then the hopeless darkness whtth iufidelity would bring, made all shudder. Then the fruirs of the system werc drawn out in flaming fire, as seen in the lives and deaths of particular infideis, and especially in llio horrid oatastophre of' infidelity in the French Revolution. Men wondered and ijuaked, and feit the flnnsiness of every lystem save Chrisiiiinity, as a strong man grappled the difficulties and' diwpa'ed the objeclions relied on. íy ihis tune the affair had become notorious, mu as the original place of' meetiug was insufficjent to accommodate the ci-owd, ir was determmed to liold the meetings in the Doctors church. But the chnrra was broken. The men who most needed the lectures would not go to a splendid church, and ihey being gone, the real living men, and in their place ben.g fuiind men of straw, the Doctor's mind lost its interest. To be sure, he lectured wilh great power in the church, but not with such power as in ihe shop, surrounded with actual nifidela. h was a pity that so -ood a begin ning should have become so popular as to mar it. íome one ai the time wrote out meaa-je reports of tliese lectures fot the " Ciiicinnati Journal." and those lare outlines are all that remainof a oourse of i.tellectual eflbrts, which those who heard them, pronoiince to he the nobles Dr. Beucher ever has triade in the Queen city, which is saying not a little. And while speal-ing of this, it may not be uat of place to say that vvhen Dr. Beechpr is inspired lo speak in Such a manner as hi been descnbed, never was there a moro natural speaker. He gives himself up to his own thoughts, which hear him forward naturally as a sirong, rapid river. Tüere is no straininí uu greiit imngs, hut lus genius is an Alacidui's lamp, summoning at a touch thoughta and images more wonderful than magie creains. Sometimes his mind will become kindled in prayer, and perhaps sublimer petitions vere never uttered. I look back with iniense dehght to the chapel devotions, in which he ook a conspiouous part, as amang the most )recious priviliges of my life. Dr. Beecher had a most singular faculty of ttaching young men lo himself by a friendhip more personal than that of instructor and lupil. He was regarded as a father, and yet sometimes he could scourge as with a rod of iron. I shall never iorget one young man, no doubt now in heaven, who had a singular ma nia for denunciaüon. The whole ohurch wa corrupt. The clergy weredumbdogs. The laity worshipped Mammon and not God. On one occassion ihis young apostle. delivered a speech, at the regular time ofseminary declamation, in which he arraigned the whole ohurch, and condemned it most magistei-ially Wheu the Doctor made his criticisms, he did it mildly, reminding the speaker that he was youngyet, and that such words would hardly I bi'corae the aged aposile lo the Gentüe$. He admomshed him tó cherish a more kindly spirit, asauring him that as the spirit of truu ove sliould niiffn in his hcart, would tliis spirit of dentinciatioii be banished. All feit the jusiire of the rernarks, and admired the spirit 'which dictated them. Hat the cnlprit couid not give it up so, and afler the exerciso was finished, confronted ;he Doctor with the demand to soften what he had said as unchristinn and unjust. This to.iched ihe old man in the qnick, and he forthwith put off "bowels of mercy." He sco.,rgi-d th poor fellow till he wepi like a child, and beged forgivenoss. Poor W ! !„s mln wg peculiar, and nended greatly a balance wheel. He wr.rked with untiring devntinn lor Jesus and yei once ín a whilo WOUJ fly „(rn atan. gentwito some wild aberation. He did much n spite oí this, and has feit on earth the record hut he had not lived ir vain, He lied al hu ïo$t, a muoh wiser man, I am told, than whea is gray-haired instructor bastinadoed him so hirn go justlji and so mercilessly. in awfamily. Dr. ia a most amiaule man, and lus Priends always rm-et a welcorne ilie bappiest; ew Year's evenir, I ever pent wM ar lus house. Myself and a friend ioun(J the Doctor unwell, and rnther taciinrn comforung himself with ecraping a vi.ilin - Vot much was elicited from l,m (lbOve a hare CJVlItJTfor nn,e time. We were dravvn up around a bnght fire, and a variety of picasant remarks was made by the different persons present. Among them was his eidest daughter. Tlie conversation of Miss Beeclier was fiiled witli striking thoughts, and at the same time was unusually. sparkling. All at once the Doctor was observed to lay aside the old violin and straigbten up in his chair, as he al ways does when interested. We could see thefun laugliingin the corners of his eyes, and the whole movement was accompanied with a peculiar blowinr through the nose. This last is alwüys the precursor of somerhing dr. .11. I will not attempt the description of an incident which had occurred only a few nights before. Gough hirnself might have envied the panto mimic power displayed, as this cheerful veteran stood in the centre of tlie circle anti .icted out the scène. The horses in the night had been kicking up a great racket, and the Dutchman had gone out to quiet matters. Just as the Dutchman went into the stable, one of ihp boarders happened to see him. and she ed out, "Horse thieves!" That roused the Doctor in another part of the house, and out he sallied to the rescue. But the brave man had a hindrance from behind, because his wife held fast to his morning-gown with the be seeching expression, " Now don't go, Doctor! oh don't go ! you will be killed ! you will be shot !" But he shook her off, and by this time all the ladies were screaming with fright ; and lo, justthen poor John the Dutcman, having reguhited things at. the barn, carae in just in time to save from fits those especially cóncerned, and to relieve the courageous Doctor farther demonstration of his vaíor ! Indeed he is as knul and noble a man as one can meet, and I trust 1 have violated no propriety n entertíiinin'r nnmerons reájera with somt fücts, which will make hem better acquaniK',1 wiih one ofthe giants t.f our ae nnvv ■íW passing way. Perhaps soroe of these facts may stímulate others to recaí] scènes of personal infercour-ie, and il" public life. wt.iíih othei-wise wiil b lost. These will be needed bv the man whose lot it may be to sketch the li'e of this veteran when he is gone. May this event be long deferred, is the prayer of one who loves him as a father, and who loves to reconnt the past, as briorht spots in his oivn history ! [Parlor Magazine.]